I’ve been feeling a bit discombobulated over the last few days. I’m not sure why but I think it might be because my Dad’s birthday has been approaching. And it finally arrived today. We always did something special, as most families do, to mark my Dad’s day. Many were spent at our summerhouse, grilling on the deck or having lobster races in the kitchen. I have a bag sitting about three feet from me right now in my office that has every single birthday card I gave me Dad in it. He saved every single one along with my Christmas lists. This year, I spent the day playing duck duck goose and teaching a camp at the twin’s preschool and quite honestly I tried not to think about the date which was easy when I was picked as goose and chased by an adoring 5 year old. But ever since I got home I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.
I can get pretty weird and new age-y sometimes and I’ve been using the words “Guide me” as a mantra (sorry to the one friend who is probably rolling her eyes right now!). I repeat it when I wake up in the middle of the night. I repeat it when I am driving to Target. I repeat it when I am doing the umpteenth load of laundry. I have been hoping the stars, angels, my Dad, God, or whomever listens to those things would hear me. And apparently they did or at least I think my Dad did.
As soon as I got home from camp today, I received an email telling me I had won a spot at a Creative Writer’s conference in Atlanta that I have been itching to go to. I actually committed to going to it with a friend – my blogging buddy – and then felt like I had to back out when Justin needed a new car and we bought our expensive designer mutt. Of course, Justin still wanted me to go but my mommy guilt started to kick in and I felt like I would not and could not enjoy another extravagance. But last week I learned that the sponsors were holding a writing contest of sorts to win a spot at the conference – a fully paid spot that would include everything. So I wrote an essay explaining why I deserved to go and either I sounded really desperate or no one else entered and I won.
I asked for someone to Guide Me and I don’t think there could have been a clearer set of directions sent to me. It just so happens that Justin’s mom and uncle will be in Atlanta that weekend spending time with their ailing mom, Justin’s mama. What a perfect opportunity for Justin and the kids to spend time with them while I spend time working on my craft. The only downfall is that Miss Eva will also have time to work on her accent.
I think this gift, the gift of the conference, was from my Dad. A gift to me on the one day that I would know it was from no one other than him, his birthday. He has been supporting my writing from the clouds more than he was able to on the ground. When I walked into my writing class back in April the first reading the teacher presented us with was from a book I had taken from my Dad’s apartment. The second was from a book that he had given to me as a gift and the third was from another book that I had taken. I knew that I was supposed to be sitting in Valley’s writing class and now I know I am supposed to be going to Atlanta.
I have to be honest with you though, I would much rather sit and be entertained by some crazy story from my father’s imagination than go to this conference. I would much rather receive one more beautifully written letter for a special occasion or absolutely no reason at all than go to this conference. I would much rather be discussing politics with my dad than go to this conference. I would much rather be sitting next to his hospital bed reading some of his favorite Emily Dickinson poems to him or trying to explain this week’s New Yorker cartoon to him than go to this conference. But since I do occasionally deal in reality, I know those things aren’t possible. Instead I will go to Atlanta and send a toast of gratitude up to the stars.